Overselling is a concept that ethically is a bit off, but unfortunately happens all too often in the hosting world.
In a shared server scenario, hosting providers are responsible for selling, allocating, and managing the sub-divided server spaces. When you purchase hosting services on a shared server configuration, you are allocated a maximum amount of disk space, RAM, bandwidth, etc.
However, hosting providers know that the majority of their clients will not likely ever need the maximum allocations. Additionally, hosting companies know the average amount of allocations that each shared server client will use.
By finding the gap between the average usage and the maximum allocation, the hosting providers are aware that the server is likely under allocated in comparison to the load it can handle… and so, to get the most return on their investment (and as much profit as possible), they sell that “gap” space; this practice is called overselling.
For those who are looking for names – here are some overselling host that I have reviewed in the past – iPage, BlueHost, Hostgator, Hostinger, SiteGround, TMD Hosting, and WebHostFace.
In defense of web host overselling
Yes, it sounds a bit wrong and, theoretically, it may draw question.
However, from a business standpoint, we can all certainly understand where they’re coming from. Personally, I wouldn’t call overselling in web hosting pure evil. When Hostgator first turned into offering unlimited hosting, this is what Brent (ex-Hostgator CEO) said:
I wanted to call the plans unlimited last time around. However, due to staffing constraints, we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the expected growth. A year later, we are finally OVERSTAFFED and ready to change the plan. Up until now, I’ve been slowing sales down on purpose in order for our support to catch up. If history repeats itself, renaming the plan from essentially unlimited to actually “unlimited” will increase our sales by at least 30%.
In last year, we have been spending more money on recruiting employees than we have on advertising! It has taken us years of hiring and training to get us to the point where we are now. We’ve gone from begging employees to work overtime to asking who wants to go home. HostGator will always have the occasional scheduling gap, but for now, we’re sending over a dozen employees home a day.
– Brent Oxley, All you can eat hosting
And, in truth, the practice doesn’t benefit just the web host provider – it also benefits the clients in the way of drastic cost reductions, offering wallet-friendly hosting options to organizations in need of a very discounted and affordable hosting solution.
But sometimes it could be a disaster…
I spoke to Nikola of AltusHost (a no-overselling host) when I was drafting this post:
Those days Web Hosting market is really overloaded with various type of offers.
Offering Unlimited web hosting or doing overselling of your resources if desperate move in order to increase sales and get better ROI. But it’s blade with 2 sides and companies who base their business model on this should be very careful.
Shared Hosting providers offer “Unlimted” web hosting packages in order to attract buyers. For small web site owners, such feeling of unlimited is great.
However, if they host some bigger website, they will very soon figure out that “unlimited” hosting is actually very limited by many parameters, and there is very high risk of having angry client. Because on the start you promised him “unlimited” and now you trying to limit him by little words you’ve made in Terms of Services, and he didn’t bothered to read :)
The majority of the time, overselling doesn’t cause any issues – in fact, most of the time, you’re never any the wiser.
However, there are some web hosts who go a bit overboard and oversell to extremes; this causes disaster (frequent server outage + slow load time = worst nightmare!) for the clients. Just imagine if you went to your friend's party and there were 50 people in the house with one bathroom. How can that bathroom handle that sort of loads in (say) five hours of heavy eating and drinking? What if there are two or more people have to pee at the same time?
No Overselling Host – Your Options
As mentioned, overselling isn’t “the devil” by any means – it even has its perks – however, if you are dead-set on working only with web hosting provider who does not leverage this practice, we have options for you.
There are numerous, quality web hosts that provide a variety of shared server hosting options for budget-friendly prices. Below please find a list of such providers that provide their services with a no-overselling guarantee.
Best hosting for small businesses
A well-rounded hosting, option, AltusHost has been around since 2008. With numerous hosting configurations available and shared server plans as low as $4.95 per month, it operates numerous Tier 3 or higher data centers throughout Europe and is headquartered in the Netherlands.
Rose Hosting (Reviewed)
This St. Louis, Missouri-based hosting provider takes pride in being the original Linux host with Linux virtual servers dating back to 2001. With US-based support services and no overselling, there are many reasons this is a great pick – not least of which includes its budget-friendly shared hosting plans that start as low as $3.95 per month.
RoseHosting founder talked about overselling in our recent interview –
Well, for starters, overselling is pure evil, plain and simple – we’ve avoided it since day one and will continue to do so. Our plans might not be the cheapest ones on the market – and, frankly, we don’t want them to be – but in return, you get exactly what you are paying for and more… but never less.
BH&D, or Best Hosting and Design, is an one-stop solution provider who provide no-overselling hosting and web design services. Entry level plan (named as Basic) starts at $5/mo and comes with 1 GB storage, 10 GB data transfer, and 5 email accounts. The host guarantee 99.996% uptime – which is great for a host at this price range.
Lead by CEO David Brown, RDO Servers is a faith based company, where they strive to honor God in everything they do. The company offers a wide range of hosting services including shared, reseller, VPS, and dedicated hosting solutions. Note that RDO Servers' shared and reseller hosting services are backed by 99.9% uptime guarantee in its TOS. Should your site uptime goes below 99.9%, you may receive one (1) month of credit* on your account.
ET Web Hosting
Since 2001, ET Web hosting has provided a variety of hosting options. This privately owned and debt-free provider is based in Blaine, Washington and Surrey, BC. Although not a discount provider, its shared server plans are available for Linux or Windows and start at $5.95 per month.
This hosting provider works a bit differently than other shared plans with a sort of “pay as you go” model. Rather than using bundles, with Nearly FreeSpeech hosting, you pay for what you use. The provider has been in business since 2002, making it a proven and lasting provider, and is headquartered in Lake Mary, Florida.
Though pushing its VPS hosting currently, Ocean Host offers all types of configurations, including shared server hosting. It’s a bit newer to the arena, having launched in 2007, but this South Africa-based provider offers hosting plans for a variety of budget and technology needs.
Priding itself in its eco-friendly, sustainable hosting practice – Canvas Host has a long history that dates back to 1998. Based in Portland, Oregon, it runs an on-site data facility and offers numerous web hosting configurations, including shared server hosting with plans starting as low as $4.66 (sale price).